Health Education England has claimed that excellent progress has been made on the recruitment of GPs.
The organisation indicated that over 100 additional places have been filled in comparison to last year.
This has meant that the possibility of falling short of GP recruitment targets has been downgraded from a red to an amber alert on HEE’s latest corporate risk register.
The document is published on an annual basis, and outlines the biggest risks facing Health Education England, being particularly focused on recruitment issues.
And recent years have seen the possibility raised that HEE ‘will not be able to attract sufficient trainees to meet mandate requirements’.
Its mandate for 2017 dictates it must recruit 3,250 trainees into GP training programmes in England, in addition to ensuring 5,000 additional doctors are working in general practice by 2020.
This has already been set out as the explicit policy of the Conservative government, although the position of the Tories on the NHS has been seriously weakened by the recent election result.
Concerns that HEE will fail to recruit enough GP trainees has been designated a maximum ‘red’ alert for the past several years, as this possibility has become a virtual likelihood.
This can be considered particularly serious considering the current crisis in general practice.
But the organisation’s latest board papers reveal recruitment in 2017 currently stands 3.5% higher than the same period in 2016 – a year that saw record recruitment levels – with 117 additional trainees accepted onto places.
The 3,250 target has been pushed back repeatedly over several years after HEE fell consistently short of the requirement.
HEE stated that it has taken a number of actions to mitigate the risk.
These have included the procurement of a marketing agency to promote GP training, launching the induction and refresher scheme and plans to ‘build the multidisciplinary team’ to relieve pressures on GPs.
The organisation has also increased GP training capacity and extended recruitment in order to “support overall net growth of 5,000 extra doctors in general practice by 2020”.
These actions have helped reduce the potential ‘impact’ of not recruiting enough GPs, HEE said, causing the overall risk to be lowered from red to amber. However, the other aspect that determines the overall severity of a risk – the ‘likelihood’ of it occuring – is still ranked as high.
HEE described 2016 GP recruitment as ‘the highest it has ever been’, recruiting a total of 3,019 – including ST1, pre-specialty trainee, GPF2 and broad-based training – against its target of 3,250.
GP acceptances from part-way through round one of recruitment this year – for training to commence in August this year – have increased by 117 over the same period last year, an increase of 3.5%